Cheshire farm makes excellent silage

Sons of Westwood Farm who use a Powerstart silage additive

The Hughes’ Westwood Farm comprises just over 380 acres in Cheshire and is home to 205 pedigree Holsteins, plus followers. It’s very much a family operation and while father, David, still retains a keen interest, his sons, Andy (right) and Martin (left), work together with their families to achieve the best results possible. 

Herd fertility at the farm has been aided by Reproduction Management Services since 2006 which has helped their pregnancy rate to reach 27%. Using Genetic Management Systems (GMS), the herd is bred with a clear sexed and beef strategy in mind. Currently, yields average 8700 litres of milk per cow per year, with excellent fats and proteins and a very low somatic cell count, in part due to their use of Valiant™ udder care. 

With a strong focus on their silage, the Hughes family make the extra effort to ensure their forage is perfect for their cow’s health and enjoyment. The ration includes grass, maize and lucerne silage along with alkalage. Having used the Powerstart® silage additive since 2008, they never have to worry about the quality of their silage and have confidence in the forage it helps them produce. 

What is their silage making strategy? 

The Hughes family do much of their silaging in-house, mowing their first cut once the weather and crop conditions are appropriate, which can be anywhere between 5th and 31st May. Mowing is usually done in a single afternoon, and the grass is tedded the next day. The following day, a contractor arrives with a precision chop forage harvester to collect the grass and apply their Powerstart® silage additive.  

The clamp at Westwood Farm is prepared with a pit liner which has side sheets. The incoming grass gets extremely well rolled as it comes into the clamp.  There is tremendous focus on compaction, ensuring all the air is expelled with no opportunity for it to return. After the clamp has been filled, a barrier sheet, green net, tyres and gravel bags are added to seal the top of the clamp. Once opened for feeding, a shear grab is used to keep the clamp face tidy and to avoid any air ingress. 

Photo shows the well-compacted and well-managed silage clamp at Westwood Farm in February 2024. 

The cows are fed a total mixed ration once each day. With superb intakes, the cows clear the troughs thoroughly, proving to the Hughes that what they are feeding is both nutritious and delicious. 

Using Powerstart® 

The Hughes family have found the Powerstart® silage additive to be key to silage success at their farm. Using Powerstart® Instant, they said the product is ‘super easy’ to use and are confident it will give them the assurance of making a clamp of golden, sweet-smelling silage to keep their cows happy, productive and in great condition. 

Andy explained: “Powerstart® does exactly what it says it will do. It drops the pH rapidly and leaves stable and extremely palatable silage due to the high levels of lactic acid reached in a short window. If we need to feed it early, within a week, we have every confidence that we can. 

Having a consistent quality of grass silage helps their nutritionist to balance the ration and maximise their milk from forage. The silage is sampled frequently throughout the winter period. Martin commented: “The cow’s intakes are massive. One consultant even queried the intakes and said they were amazing!” 

Using this fast-fermenting silage additive has been one of the factors that has helped the Hughes to craft consistently good silage, forage which they describe as ‘rocket fuel’.  

Ready to improve the quality of your silage? Order Powerstart® today online or talk to your local representative.  

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